Revealing the state of Monitoring and Compliance of Environmental Clearance Conditions

Posted on Sep 7th, 2009 and filed under General.

Calling the Bluff: Revealing the state of Monitoring and Compliance of Environmental Clearance Conditions

Kalpavriksh releases a report on the state of compliance of environment clearance conditions by project developers.

* Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) clears 80-100 projects every month with a range of environment and social conditions.
* At present MoEF has over 6000 projects to monitor through 6 regional offices and a staff of 2-4 officers per office for the task.
* Projects granted environment clearance are monitored once in 3 to 4 years.
* No centralized record of non-compliance is maintained by the MoEF
* Less than 50% of the projects cleared in 2003 had monitoring reports generated by the MoEF
* Only 150 of the 223 projects cleared in the year 2003 had atleast one compliance report submitted by project authorities.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is on the verge of deciding on whether to grant a self certification option to project proponents so that project expansion and modernization proposals can be exempt from seeking environment clearances. This is one of the major amendments proposed to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006 which delineates a legal process for the grant of environment clearances to industrial and infrastructure projects.

Each time a project is granted a clearance, a set of general and specific conditions are laid out for project proponents to comply with, so that project impacts can be minimized or mitigated. Non-compliance of clearance conditions like dumping of construction debris into rivers or farms or non-adherance of pollution reduction measures have severe impacts on people and the environment. In most cases the impacts are felt most by labourers and contract workers on projects and local communities living around project sites.

Despite the dismal state of compliance, the MoEF continues to propose amendments such as the latest one rather than address the fundamental problems of impact assessment as a science and as a process of decision-making.

With over 6000 projects to monitor, the Monitoring Unit housed in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) collects the Monitoring Reports (MR) and Compliance Reports (CR) that are submitted by its Regional Offices and project proponents. But this data is not used for any analysis of the problems or inadequacies of the present system of monitoring and to find ways to improve it. Infact, though the Ministry maintains a record of the number of projects granted clearance by it each year, there is no data to show the level of compliance achieved by these projects.

It is in this context that Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group undertook a study of the compliance of environmental clearance conditions by projects. The report places the cause of non-compliance within the EIA process and concludes that the vexed problems of monitoring and compliance are symptomatic of a fallacious environmental clearance process.

This publication contains a printed document of 32 pages and a data CD. The document is a synthesis of field investigations, the analysis of the monitoring and compliance reports of all projects granted clearance in 2003 and written responses to Right to Information (RTI) applications. The CD contains five case studies; regional fact sheets on each of the six regional offices; and scans of all the responses to RTI applications (excluding the monitoring and compliance reports of the 2003 projects).

Please contact vikalgreen@gmail.com and rahul_priyadarshi@rediffmail.com if you would like a copy of the printed document and CD. We request a small donation of Rs.150 for the same.

For further details contact:

Kanchi Kohli (kanchikohli@gmail.com)

Manju Menon (manjumenon1975@gmail.com)

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